76ers

Sixers see a 'Dennis Rodman' type in Oregon's Jordan Bell

Sixers see a 'Dennis Rodman' type in Oregon's Jordan Bell

CAMDEN, N.J. — The signature game in Jordan Bell's career came this year against Kansas. He was two blocks away from a triple-double in Oregon's Final Four-clinching upset of No. 1 seed Kansas. 

Remember, Joel Embiid went to Kansas.

"I talked some smack to him," Bell, who spent some time with Embiid Tuesday night before a pre-draft workout with the Sixers the next morning, said with a smirk on his face.

As far as the Sixers are concerned, Bell has the talent to back up his smack talk. The junior forward could be available when the Sixers make their second-round selections, of which they have four: 36th, 39th, 46th and 50th. Bell made his case at the Sixers' training complex Wednesday.

"I'm the glue guy on the team, the person who does whatever needs to be done on the floor during that game," he said. "I can change it up from game to game. I can go out for 20, I can have somebody have their season low, 16 rebounds, 20 rebounds, whatever it is I need to do — eight blocks."

Although the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Bell averaged a respectable 10.9 points per game in his final season as a Duck, he is not primarily a scorer. Should the Sixers decide to spend one of their picks on him, he said he's ready to come into Philadelphia and do "the dirty work" — rebound, defend, block shots. 

The Sixers see a similar role. VP of basketball administration/Delaware 87ers GM Brandon Williams said they see "a Dennis Rodman-like player that's got the ability to play across a few positions, mainly defensively."

Bell showed that range in the few minutes of workouts open to the media. In three-on-three play, he covered Indiana's Thomas Bryant, who is an inch or two taller and whose wingspan stretches a massive 7-foot-6. In one sequence, Bryant went for a right hook from the block and Bell elevated to swat it away. The refs called goaltending, but that didn't matter. Just the distance Bell got off the ground was telling.

Those abilities, interestingly, weren't honed entirely on the basketball court — something the Sixers dug up when they interviewed Bell.

"As we learned more about him, one of the fascinating things is that he's a volleyball player, and if you pick up some little nuances, he blocks a lot of shots with two hands," Williams said. "You can almost see the volleyball play, blocking at the net."

The sport has helped Bell develop his timing when attempting to block shots. 

"For a player as, call him, short, given how big you think he is, at 6-8, his spring, his sense of timing," Williams said. "Coaches always want players who can guard pick-and-roll and guys who can switch and I think he's going to give somebody a great asset as a versatile defensive player."

And football, which Bell played for two years at Long Beach Polytechnic High School as a receiver and defensive end, did his development some favors too. The football program there is nationally relevant — DeSean Jackson is a Jackrabbit alumnus. With that crowd of talent, there were no days off.

"So you had to bring that edge every single day in practice," Bell said. "And then try to just carry that over to the basketball team."

Bell brought the work ethic from high school to college. Now it's time to carry it over from college to the pros.

LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer takes tanking jab at Sixers

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LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer takes tanking jab at Sixers

The Sixers have been minding their own business this summer.

We touched on that earlier this week as players from one Eastern Conference contender after another opened up about how their respective teams were going to reach the NBA Finals (see story).

That’s fine. You would expect those squads to feel confident in their ability, especially now that the conference’s boogie man, LeBron James, has moved on to Hollywood.

But then the Sixers had a grenade lobbed their way from an unlikely source.

Speaking at an event dubbed “The Playbook,” essentially a pep rally for LA Clippers fans to speak with members of the front office, owner Steve Ballmer assured supporters in the crowd that the franchise wasn’t going to adopt a tanking method to get back in contention like the Sixers.

“That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” Ballmer said, per the Los Angeles Times. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years. I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in. How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”

Wow, OK.

Let’s look at the fact that the Sixers’ history, which includes three championships and a laundry list of some of the game's all-time greats, provided the organization with the leeway to undertake such a massive overhaul in a promise to reclaim the glory days. 

The Clippers, on the other hand, have just 13 playoff appearances in their 48-year history and zero titles. 

But this isn’t to beat up on the Clippers. They had to dig themselves out of the mess former owner Donald Sterling created and it can’t be easy always operating in the “Showtime” shadow cast by the Lakers.

This is more about what exactly Ballmer has accomplished — or hasn’t accomplished — in his brief time running a franchise to take a shot at the Sixers from across the country.

Since paying $2 billion for the Clippers prior to the start of the 2014-15 season (one year after the Sixers started “The Process”), the team has actually taken a wrong turn. In that ’14-15 campaign, they won 56 games and reached the Western Conference semifinals. The 2015-16 season produced 53 wins and a first-round exit. In 2016-17, LA registered 51 victories before bowing out in the first round again. Last season, the Clippers had a 42-40 record (two of those losses came to the Sixers) and missed the postseason.

Plus, in just the past calendar year under Ballmer’s watch, the Clips have lost their big three of Chris Paul (trade), Blake Griffin (trade) and DeAndre Jordan (free agent).

That doesn’t exactly scream team on the rise.

Ballmer may indeed have a plan to make sure the Clippers get back in the hunt. After all, he does have respected basketball minds Jerry West and Lawrence Frank handling front-office business and Doc Rivers still orchestrating things on the sidelines. And L.A., while now missing its star trio, does have some intriguing players on the roster that could surprise a few people.

Still, that collection was projected by ESPN to finish with a 35-47 record in 2018-19 and miss the playoffs again in the stacked Western Conference.

With the Clippers staring a decline right in the face and the Sixers boasting two franchise cornerstones in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons along with other solid pieces from Sam Hinkie’s process, it appears a bit misguided for Ballmer to take such a swipe.

Ballmer might not want the Clippers to tank under his leadership. The thing is, the organization might be forced into that method regardless.

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Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as 2nd female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

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Sixers hire Lindsey Harding as 2nd female full-time scout in NBA from WNBA

The Sixers have made a historic hire in their scouting department.

The team has hired former WNBA star Lindsey Harding as a full-time scout starting next season. 

"I think when you have this goal in mind, your gender shouldn't even matter," Harding told ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne. "It should be about if you can do it, if you're good, you're experienced, if you know what you're doing and what you're talking about."

Harding, a Duke product and the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 WNBA draft, is just the second woman to be hired by an NBA team as a scout after a career in the WNBA. Jenny Boucek, who is now an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, was the first former WNBA player to be hired as a scout back in 2006 by the Seattle SuperSonics. Becky Hammon, one of Harding's former opponents who urged Harding to pursue this path, was hired as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. Hammon has since been interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks' GM job and been promoted to Gregg Popovich's top assistant.

Harding completed the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season after retiring in 2017. The 34-year-old guard spent nine seasons in the WNBA and represented Belarus in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Lindsey has quickly become one of the game's bright young minds in basketball operations," Sixers head coach and interim GM Brett Brown said to Shelbourne. "Having graduated from the NBA's Basketball Operations Associates Program last season, Lindsey is applying the same grit and basketball IQ she used as a player in her move to the front office. We look forward to the work Lindsey will do to help grow our program and further solidify a culture of winning.

"It's no secret how much I value the culture we've built in Philadelphia and how much a family-like atmosphere means to our program. Lindsey is a leader, and she is a welcomed addition to the 76ers family. I look forward to working with her."

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